Banks County Opinions...

JANUARY 8, 2003


By: Jana Adams
The Banks County News
January 8, 2003

Heroics in my childhood kitchen
I don’t cook that often, and when I do, it is usually the very basic stuff that doesn’t take too much time, doesn’t require too many ingredients that demand a special, and invariably expensive, trip to the grocery store and that doesn’t make too much of a mess — again, the time factor.
But every once in a while I will attempt to make something that I’ve read about or seen a recipe for or, more likely, is a comfort food that I crave from my parents’ or grandparents’ cooking. It never seems to taste quite the same, somehow, but, still, I do try on rare occasions.
Not too long ago, with the weather turning cold, I wanted to make beef stew, hopefully like my mother’s. I bought several things I thought I would need, including stew beef.
I called home to see how I should go about cooking everything and got my father on the phone.
What’s the best way to cook the stew beef? I asked.
Little did I know, that simple question would call forth a childhood horror.
Well, he replied, you should use the pressure cooker.
The pressure cooker! Oh, no!
I could almost hear the rattlesnake whir of the pressure cooker in full throttle....warning! warning! warning! You know, that pressure valve on top of the lid that rattles, clatters, hisses and generally sets my nerves on edge when the cooker gets heated up.
I had a flashback to childhood sister and I hovering small and anxious in the kitchen as our mother lifted — two-handed and with several pot holders — the pressure cooker off the stovetop and headed for the sink.
Get back!
Be careful, this is VERY HOT!
We scattered, taking cover as she lowered the VERY HOT pressure cooker — still hissing and ominous and certain to explode — into the sink and ran some cool water over it. Gradually, she tamed the beast.
We were so impressed with her, stepping into kitchen danger, risking life and limb and skin to make beef stew for us.
(And I’m serious, a pressure cooker is nothing to joke about. It really is very hot and could most certainly be dangerous if not handled with care. If you’ve heard one, you know what I’m talking about.)
Those impressions scarred us, I believe. Hearing that threatening noise, combined with the sharp caution in our mother’s voice —Girls! Get back! — I couldn’t help but envision blasts of steam and hot liquid and general violence and all out destruction in the kitchen.
Even now, hearing that rattle in the background sometimes when I talk to my mother on the phone and she is cooking is enough to bring my danger! danger! senses to full alert.
(Gasp!) Is that the pressure cooker? Be CAREFUL!
And then, I’ll admit it, my next thought is, Hmmm, is she making beef stew?
As I thought about my father’s suggestion for my own pack of stew beef — Well, you should use the pressure cooker — I said, quickly, Oh, but I don’t have a pressure cooker. (As if I might want one!)
And then, more honestly...I’m scared of pressure cookers.
Silence on the other end of the line.
You could boil it, I guess, but it would take a really long time, he finally said.
I put the stew beef back into the freezer, where it remains, frostbitten.
I believe I made an oyster stew instead; it bubbled calmly and quietly as I stirred it with a big spoon in a pot on the stovetop.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.

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By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
January 8, 2003

It’s easier to be a student today
“Get Tips for Science Projects Here”
I couldn’t believe it when I logged onto the Internet and saw this advertisement pop up. All students today have to do is go to the Internet to find project ideas, themes of complex books and any number of other things that I used to spend hours working on.
I hate to sound really old but these kids of today really have it made. I remember working for months on science fair projects. I would read science books and magazines in search of the perfect project. It sure would have been much easier to find a list of projects on the Internet.
My favorite science project is the one I did in eighth grade on the scents that cats favor. I don’t remember the results but it must have been OK because I got a ribbon at the science fair. I do remember that I came up with the idea myself. I certainly didn’t have the handy Internet to look up ideas on.
I first started thinking about this last week when a friend’s daughter asked me for help picking out a book to read and write an essay on. She told me that we could look up the themes of the 25 books she had to choose from on the Internet.
I typed in the title of the first book on her list and found a lot more than the theme listed. The novel was torn apart from top to bottom with symbolism, theme, plot and everything else imaginable clearly outlined. It’s a lot more advanced than Cliff Notes.
I used to spent weeks and even months reading and re-reading these books, going to the local public library and the university library reading research books on the authors and the novels. It would have been great to do all of this research from my home computer.
The two incidents listed above really concern me. It appears as if students today don’t have to do all of the research and spend hours at the library that we did in the “old days” of not so long ago. You don’t even have to think about your homework. As long as you know your way around the Internet, it appears as if you can find whatever your teacher asks for.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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